Posted by: dutchimport | July 6, 2007

Reality check

Last week I send out a long update email to a large group of friends, mainly in The Netherlands to give an update on my life. When I first moved out here 7 years ago, I did this every couple of months, but the replies became less and less, and so the list of people became shorter, which is normal. I gained friends here, and lost some back there. They went on with their lives, have babies and all that “normal” stuff.
In the mail I wrote about the issues we had with Sierra and how we now put her on doggie anti-separation anxiety medication. I made a remark that she is now on drugs, just like her daddy. I thought everyone I send the email to was aware of my 20 year long battle with depression, and that almost 3 years ago I started taking anti-depressants after being diagnosed with Cyclothymia, a milder version of bipolar II.

One friend of mine wrote me back last week, and apparently did not know. She made a typical Dutch comment saying I lost my Dutch “down-to-earth” attitude. We have a word for it in Dutch that doesn’t really translate well, but its close.

I guess it’s true that we, non-Americans, think of America as a pill popping nation. It’s not that common in The Netherlands to take anti-depressants, but it is being used more and more as a treatment for depression. Even though I have been depressed for years, in The Netherlands I never really sought treatment and thought I’d just had to live with it. It almost cost my life.
I’m not ashamed to be on the pills. It makes my life so much better. My family on my mother’s side has a history with mental illness. My grandfather had some issues, my aunt is struggling, my mom has always been emotional unstable, and my uncle completely broke down last year, and has not been the same since. My uncle is doing better now, but he had to be committed to an institution, and is on medication (he was already on medication before his collapse).

One of the reasons I left The Netherlands is because of this “down-to-earth” attitude. If you think or act a little out of the box you’re told “just act normal, and then you’re acting crazy enough”. Kind of funny, cause it’s a country famous for being open-minded and liberal. Well, the truth is that in some areas it’s the complete opposite.

My friends remark did make we wonder if I’ll be on the pills forever, or if I could be off them one day. It would be nice to be able to live without them, and use the tools I’ve learned to overcome any future struggle with depression. I guess time will tell…

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Responses

  1. Hey Jaron:

    I think you’re talking about “nuchterheid”? I almost always translate “nuchterheid” as “false modesty” or just plain “disdainful arrogance” cause that’s what it really is to me. You haven’t lost anything in your character or like that, you’ve just moved on, which is something I did about 15 years ago, when I left the Netherlands, I say good for you, if your “friends” could see how hard you have worked and continue to work at your life they might be a little more careful in judging your down-to-earthedness, I remember one X-mas (or thanksgiving) that you went downtown to help feed the homeless, I think that was a pretty good example of being down to earth!

    Mazel Tov,

    Xerxes Croes

  2. Thankfully you have plenty of friends here to help you through the good and bad times. And nobody in LA expects you to be down-to-earth, in the Dutch meaning. LA is all about breaking the mold and finding your own path. Embrace that, and your wealth of love and friends here.

    XXOO, N.

  3. “It’s not that common in The Netherlands to take anti-depressants,”

    Yes, but I’d like to point out that Pot is also sold over-the-counter in Amsterdam.

    Life has a way of balancing out.

    And [N]’s right. We love you. Like I said, life is meant to be travelled through and it’s not worth a moment of it without good friends… which is why I revel in the unmitigated quality of my friends. You guys are my pills. And occasionally my flask.

  4. At least you know what to do to take care of yourself.

    Most of my family is crazy, and they don’t want to admit it (or take any drugs, even though most are heavy drinkers).

  5. I’ve never thought about this…I understand how the US is perceived as a “pill popping nation” but to actually pretend that conditions don’t exist is also scary to believe. Awesome for you though.


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